Bronxites Gather for Fifth Annual Abrazo Garifuna


This past Thursday, in honor of Garifuna-American Heritage Month, Bronxites gathered for the fifth annual Abrazo Garifuna celebration at Maestro’s Caterers, hosted by the Honorable New York State Senator Ruben Diaz, together with Assembly Members Marcos Crespo, Luis Sepulveda and Michael Blake.


The Garifuna, a people whose national origins are widespread and varied, have historically suffered from a number of diasporas and exiles. With their heritage and cultural identity splintered as a result, many trace ancestry to West and Central Africa, the Caribbean and Central America. However, the largest Garifuna community outside of Central America —  more than 200,000 individuals– has adopted the Bronx their home.


Clad in their Thursday’s best, guests poured into the main dining area, which was elegantly adorned in gold, white and black accents, the colors of the of the Garifuna flag. Playing on the speakers were melodic tunes spanning the lands the people call home, ranging from the Jamaican, Bob Marley to Honduran, Aurelio Martinez. A fitting backdrop to the evening’s festivities, those in attendance mingled and helped themselves to a variety of cuisines before the celebration and awards ceremony commenced.


Arriving shortly before the event swelled to capacity, Senator Diaz opened with a few affable remarks before praising the Garifuna people. Speaking almost entirely in Spanish, a primary language of many in the Garifuna community, he then introduced two singers to kick off the event.


While the first sang the familiar “Star-Spangled Banner,” the second, a native Garifuna man belted out the Belizean national anthem, “Land of the Free,” in Garifuna. Accompanying his rendition was a live guitar performance. To great applause, an encore was performed before seguing into the actual award presentation for the honorees.


Honoree Arnol Guity Martinez with his award

Honoree Arnol Guity Martinez 

Senator Diaz presented awards to four distinguished members of the Garifuna community for their outstanding achievements the fields of  Community Leadership, Arts and Culture, Religion, Youth Leadership.

Senator Ruben Diaz and Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda dancing

Senator Ruben Diaz and Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda dancing



The night was then capped off by a performance of traditional Garifuna songs and dance before opening the floor for guests to move about and express their national pride.


City Council Member Vanessa Gibson was also in attendance.

Story and photos by Bronx Chronicle staff writer Koi Germany. 

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